Category: Feature

Civil Service a Cesspool of Corruption?

Civil Service A Cesspool of Corruption? 

My parents sent me to school, I mean western education type school believing they were charting a better life for me. They believe life would be better and rightly so. They made sure I had the best  education. The education provided by the state during our time was better and comparable to any country of the world. It was one of the best legacies of the colonial admingistration. 

During my days in school, it was fun everything was paid for by the state. Our books, uniform and other basic supply were un ending, the teachers were like our parents, you don’t miss home that much while in school. It was really a family away from home. Unknown to me, I was also building relationships that would prove so dear to me later in life. The love, the candour, honesty and sincerity we shared as classmates was endless. We never knew the bond and love would last through out our adult lives. We cherished those moments and the nostalgia to date each time we meet .

As we moved from our elementary schools to the higher institutions the bond that existed between us kept waxing stronger life was full of the anticipations of the good things ahead. 

When we come home for holidays we are the darlings of our communities, the “Bature’s in the making “. The University life made us look like the white men who occupied the colonial offices we were being prepared to take over. 

Our mates who were not lucky to progress with us to higher institutions look at us with envy each time we were home . Though, they no longer look like us but the bond we developed while we were younger never faded away. Our new outlook mesmerised them, the clean left over school uniforms, the clean shaved head, the sport canvases given to us for physical education  are part of the paraphernalia that mesmerised our friends in the village. 

Soon came the time when we have to leave the walls of our Alma Mata, ready polished in ethics and etiquette to join the elite club of the public servants . 

The most amazing thoughts about leaving the University was the dreams and hopes of the good things out there we were about to start enjoying.

 The question of struggling how to find a job does not even come to mind.  The jobs were there for us,  just for the picking without sweat or struggle. 

 Months, in some cases a year before our graduation, some had already gotten several job offers from their regional, state governments or companies. Some even come our to institutions on graduation day to ferry us away to the good things of life our parents wished for us. Picking a job was  therefore a matter of choice depending on which one we liked or the one that suits our callings. 

It didnt take time for us to discover that life in the public service was going to be amazing, fascinating and interesting. It had all the good future our parents had wished for us. 

On assumption of duty you are spoilt with the goodies of life, a car and house and the promises of good future without lobbying for it. You instantly begin to feel the aura and the dignity and sense of responsibilities that goes with it. 
The hallmark of all these were service, respect, and dignity and professionalism. The mentoring by our senior colleagues were excellent,. Your ability and hard work you put in duties determines your successes and what you become. 

Materialism was never in our lexicon but rather ethics, practice and procedures determined how we operated. 

The ethos built into us were honesty, integrity, dignity, professionalism and respect of the public trust we have sworn to uphold. Sanctions and reward were applied across board. There were no them versus us. Merit and hard work were the rules of the game. Everyone knows his ranking in the system. This was how things worked out. Promotions were carried out when due, no jumping from one cadre to another. The hierarchy in leadership were never abused. 

The political class that took over from the colonialist were nationalistic in their outlook and conduct of the state affairs. 

The civil servants who were there at that time built a career on honesty and  hard work. They were not afraid to tell the truth, and never bent over backwards to succumbent rules and regulations to accommodate personal or sectional interests, service and public trust was the key. 

This was what the generation that came before us  met. They inherited Nigeria full of opportunities, the semi egalitarian state that our founding father tried to build and bestow to those coming behind them. 

Suddenly, the journey was trancated by the Military, the once near perfect civil service was destroyed. Indiscipline, nepotism, selfishness, greed and materialism took over. 

The confusion created by the intervention of the Military also affected our way of living. It introduced the unitary way of life of the military. The single command structure which was the rules of engagement of the military was wholesomely transferred to the civil service. The dictum of do first before complaint became the norm. 

Several years since the military went back to the barracks the once near perfect civil service never came back to its glorious days. 

The change also left behind the burden of how to deal with the fragmented society arising from the civil war that took the life of about one million Nigerians. 

 It also affected and severed the bond that was developing after  the independence struggle .  

The nationalistic fervour demonstrated by the founding fathers of the nation gave way to acrimony and despair, the once communal society degenerated into individualism, the once tolerant society succumbed to chaotic sectionalism and religious bigotry, nepotism, regionalism, greed and personal interests took over merit  and due process, consumptive life and materialism gave rise to corruption and mal – administration. 

Soon the writing on the wall became apparent, the good future our parents had hoped for us  started disintegrating, heading for the abyss.  The rules of the games started changing rapidly, the destruction started in earnest 

Nigeria became a laboratory where all kinds experiments were conducted. Every administration that came into power formulated some hypothesis on how to move the country forward. 

No sooner they begin to test the hypothesis anther government will take over. The fallacy about all these changes were that some of these hypothesis remain untested, those that  were about to be implemented were either left on shelves or discarded completely. The country remained a guinea pig where all sorts of reforms were tried, in the process we lost our forecast as a nation. 

Several reform were introduced by successive governments, from austerity measures, structural adjustments, power reform, pension reform, national health insurance reform just to mention a few. 

We also had our fair share of political programmes introduced by successive governments , the green revolution programme introduced by Shagari administration to move the country from over dependence on oil, operations feed the nation by Obasanjo, the structural adjustment program by Babangida, the seven point agenda by Yar’adua government, the change mantra and fight against corruption by the Buhari administration. 

In order not deviate from  this polemic since our concern is not to ex Ray successive governments in Nigeria but rather to try and understand why the once vibrant civil service was destroyed. 

To locate the causes of the problems we need to examine some historical events that took place in our political development viz-viz the distraction of the Civil Service. 

The first salvo was fired by the General Murtala Muhammad administration. When the government came into power with the zeal to sanitise the civil service. According to Ajayi, the former president of the Association of Nigerian Professional Bodies, when  he said  “the foundation for the destruction of Nigeria’s civil service began in 1975 during the military reign of late Murtala Mohammed.

He said during this period, the late Head of state commenced sacking civil servants through announcements on the radio and that this act drastically reduced the morale of the country’s civil servants.”

Ajayi, however said “though it was unintended because it was supposed to sanitise and strengthen the civil service, it ended up destroying the civil service because it was counter-productive as there was no longer security of tenure among civil servants.

But rather than strengthen the service, it created opportunities for serious job insecurity and corruption.

In this case, civil servants who no longer felt safe, had to resort to corrupt acts.

He said successive governments have since relegated the importance of the civil service and reduced it to just carrying out the orders of the President or the governors as the case may be. 

As a result, junior officers are sometimes imposed on their senior officers just to balance the political equation and this, according to him, only destroys the civil service

The former Head of Service of the Federation (HOSF), Alhaji Isa Bello Sali,  blamed the regime of former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), for laying the foundations of the rot that currently permeates the nation’s civil service.

Sali said the reforms carried out between 1985 and 1988 were largely responsible for the dearth of professionals and committed public officers in the public service.

The Head of Service made the allegations in a paper he delivered at the opening session of the 36th Annual Conference of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSAN). 

He explained that the implementation of the Professor Dotun Philip’s report and subsequent promulgation of Decree 43 to give legal backing to the implementation of the recommendations of the report largely eroded the vitality, standard of performance and cohesion of the public service.

He said: “The subsequent reforms of 1985-88 which arose from the recommendations of the Dotun Philip report was given legal effect through Decree 43 of 1988. The legislation paved the way for all comers into the top echelon of the civil service.

The Governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke, in the same vain also accused former military Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida of “destroying” the Nigerian Civil Service.

He made these assertions recently while delivering a keynote address to mark the State’s Civil Service Day, held at the Cultural Centre Complex in Calabar, the state capital.

According to him, IBB’s implementation of his Structural Adjustment Programme, SAP, during his eight year rule destroyed the civil service built as far back as 1934.

The civil service remains the hope of the vast majority of Nigerians and it has direct impact on the success or failure of any administration. But in just eight years, the Structural adjustment programme instituted by the Babagida administration destroyed the values, dignity of civil service which have painstakingly been built since 1934″. 

Apart from the reasons given above, the untold real reason was that the Military, were  envious of the professionalism displayed by the Permanent Secretaries of those days. Many of which have resisted to take orders from them while they were in the Ministry of defence. So when they took over power their main goal was to deal with those super Permanent Secretary as they were then referred to. 

As a result of these the purging of officers in the Civil Service was not careful thought out and this resulted in eroding the moral and consequently the destruction of the Civil Service. 

In capturing the mood of what is going on in the civil service today,  the Chairman, Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator Dahiru Kuta, lamented that civil service jobs in the country are now meant for only those who can bribe their way through.  Jobs are now go to the highest bidder. 

He added that marginalization and ethnicity in the civil service have robbed the country of dedicated workers.

What is more worrisome of recent is that, jobs and promotion in the service are now meant for the highest bidders.

“Many workers now do not put in their best where they work because merit and professionalism have given way to cronyism and nepotism . 

Heads of MDAs give undue advantage to people from their ethnic origin or cronies to ensure that they continue  milking the system  long after they have left the service. 

Appointments to the top echelon of the service also follow similar considerations. 

The exam system popularised by the former Hos Oransanya is perhaps the second most damaging innovation introduced in the Civil Service. The process is riddled with manipulation, corruption and nothing about it is transparent no matter how much they want us to believe. 

The arranged exams produces only those who the cabals want to become Permanent Secretary or Leaders in the system .

 For instance how can you explain how someone who just become a Director in January and by February he is a Permanent Secretary. He comes back to the same Ministry after the “so called exam” and becomes a boss to his seniors who mentored him on job for several years. What sort of work environment are we creating? How can anything meaningful come out of this? That is why today we have the types of Maina the embattled chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team in the civil service. 

In considering these types of appointments in my view so many  factors ought have come into play not just “exam”. The civil service is a professional body governed by rules and regulations. One is  required to spend certain period of time on each post in order to equip him for a higher responsibilities . You need some experiences in order to do certain jobs. But just because some people want to succumbent the process and become big men we jestession reality for parochialism 

Oransanya who was  the architect of the exam policy, came from the private sector and got himself into civil service through the back door to become a permanent secretary and head of service within no time. 

To perpetuate this mischief he brought in phony consultants who were usually their cronies to set the exams, which they quickly mark and come with phony results that are vetted by committee headed by former Hos and Permanent Secretaries who were themselves beneficiaries of the scum to choose from among their candidates and pass the names of the so called successful candidates to the executive for approval. 

Governor Liyel Imoke reminisced the long forgotten ambitions of our parents when he said, “the ambition of most Nigerians in the past was to become a top civil servant as “such was a guarantee for a good standard of living then and it also afforded many to sponsor their children to schools, build houses, and buy cars.”

“Even the Youth Corps members on passing out would think of buying a Volkwagen Igala for a start. My father was a civil servant. My mother was a civil servant and when I was growing up I wanted to join the diplomatic service so the civil servant should be celebrated because they are the ones who are daily in touch with our people”.

Sorry, Mr governor things are no longer the same the Civil Service has over the years turn into cesspool of corrupt officials,who buy their ways through corrupt processes. The professionalism, the respect, and dignity that keeps the system together has broken apart. The wishes of our parents for a good, honest and decent and professional life in the Civil Service has given way unbridled corruption, nepotism, cronyism and graft.

 Hope may not be totally lost, but it requires a massive commitment on the part of all to reverse the rot.

 I am looking forward to the time when I can proudly tell my children to join the civil service as my parents did to me. 

 HOW DIRTY IS POLITICS?

I was born in a very small viliage sorrounded by hilly terrain, which according to my grandfather, the location was strategically  selected by our ancesstors to provide fortress and to  shield  the community from attacks by rival commuities. 

Life was so serene, peaceful and communal, everybody knows one another, a bonded community. The bond was so strong that everyone was a brothers keeper. The elderly were seen as fathers to all, custodians of wisdom, they were reverred and respected. They exude power and authority. can discipline, direct courses of events with an un questionable authority.  Things remained that way until when some groups of people from the cities started coming to the villiages with drum beats, dishing out gifts and making promises they can transform the communities.

Slightly over half a century since they started coming the lives of my people have not changed. In fact what they succeeded in doing is destroying our communality by introducing individualism, hate and deceit.

The first change I notice that took place so early since they arrived was the breakage in the bond that kept the community together. The community no longer respect the supremacy of the elders, families now dont talk to each other as a unit of association, brothers are no longer eating together, quarrels between peoples increased,  

Community disputes are no longer settled through dialogue. By the day everything that made us diffrent as a people was destroyed.

But since I was so young I dare not ask questions, life went on as usual until one day I surmoned the courage to ask my school teacher in one of our civic class. why are things no longer the same  with us?

He responded  by saying its “POLITICS” as I was too young to grasp what it means the subject was dropped.

Several years after my teacher told me it was “POLITICS” I grew up with disdain for “politics and politicians”  I am not a student of politics but my training as a Journalist and Administrator later in life exposed me to know that politics is a noble profession and to some extent we aslo have good politicians. However the way politicians, practice politics makes it dirty and un appealing to people of good conscience. 

As I grow older and started developing interest in politics, I perceived so early that to be a good politician, you must be very good in deceit, a back bitter, a liar, an ingrate, a betrayer, abusive, arrogant, a cheat and disloyal. 

Humbled by my background I also found so early that these habits are not noble. In order to find answers to my delima.  I spoke and asked politicians and some few  good  and fine gentlemen who I believed  had  the qualities and capacity to provide good leadership to this country. 

The responses I got from them were very disturbing and worrying. Many of replied that no descent person would like to enter the political arena with level of vindictiveness, tardiness, and the lack of the undetstanding of the rule of the game by the actors in the political space. 

They argued that the mess and the rot in the system are so huge and better not contemplated. And this gave rise why most descent people are shying away from politics.

They reasoned that most of the actors in the field are, uncultured, job seekers, corrupt, inept, morally bankrupt, kleptomaniacs, haters, brutes, insensitive and unware of the  nobility of the profession. Their only stock in trade is to cajole, abuse and amass wealth.This is how good people perceive politics and politicians.

In my effort to encourage them change their mind set I appeal to them after our discussions that if good people like them would have nothing to do with politics, how can we correct the system. if we continue to allow the chalatants, the bad and the ugly in our society to lead us and continue to determine our fates. Their final reaction often after our conversations were  just a smile.

These smiles that kept poking my thoughts. I begin to ask myself were they thinking I am mad or something?

But the reality playing out in our real world by the political class and even from those occupying public offices seems to confirm why our political space is dirty. 

Until recently, Governor Ahmed el Rufai, some one who I hitherto  loved and believed in as one of the few Northern political elites that can make a diffrence because of his past performance as the Minister of FCT. 

His venom on the Honourable Minister Women Affairs, when she declared to support the former Vice Presidnet Atiku Abubakar, should he decide to contest the Presidential election come 2019.  As a democrat El Rufai should know that not everyone in the same party share the same ideology and believe in one person or leader. 

Amina was not wrong to feel the way she did, at least she was bold and frank,  unlike her other colleques who in the mist of the night attend all noctral meetings to strategise their next political move. It is a well known fact that APC is an amalgamation of various shades of opinions nurtured from various camps that make up the party. we have the Buhari’s, the Asiwoju’s, the Turaki’s and the Kwankwaso’s these cleavages still exit and operate amourphrously till today and they are not likely to fizzle out very soon. 

Another disturbing statement he made was the one against late President Yar’adua while addressing the APC stakeholders meeting at Murtala Mohammed Square, Kaduna. Governor Rufai warned that he was ready to confront whoever tests his will as the leader of the party in the state. That he is a dogged fighter. He added by saying “I had fought with two presidents. Umaru Yar’Adua ended in his grave, while President Goodluck Jonathan ended in Otueke.

 It is ok for the Governor to be a dogged fighter however his comments on the dead was what baffled me, as a muslims he ought to have known that this kind of statements will have consquencies as Islam frawns at speaking of the dead. where has the social,  cultural, religious and campus of the governor gone?

With these type of statements coming from him, it keeps poking my thoughts, is this the person whom I hitherto would have hero worshipped, looked up to as one of the most enterpring and promising leader that may one day lead us out of the woods?

My like for him wanned further when I read the comments of his bosses, particularly those from the former Vice President Atiku when el-Rufai accussed him of having a hand in the $40 million Halliburton scandal. This is person whom Atiku was instrumental in bringing into government and making him Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, and eventually a minister. 

In referrence to the same El Rufai President Obasanjo also said “A leader must know the character and ability of his subordinates. “”Character wise, Nasir has not much going for him” He continued by saying “My vivid recollection of him (el rufai) is his penchant for lying, for unfair embellishment of stories and his inability to sustain loyalty for long.  “he is a pathological purveyor of untruths and half-truths with little or no regard for integrity. “In all of this, he unwittingly does more harm than good to himself’.

The question to ask here is Ahmed el Rufai really  doing harm just to himself alone or to even to his generations that  are likely to take the leadership of this country in the future?

Let me no deviate soo much the import of my writting is not on Ahmed El Rufai, somebody who I still cherish and respect. He incidently became my model in the discourse because he has recently  been in news  for so many bad reasons and  I thought he ought to  have been circumspect. 

My respect for him must have wanned slightly but it is an undenial  fact that he is fine, gentle, competent and a good man,. Even those who have a pound of flesh to pick with him can not deny the fact that he has first class brain. 

This is what Atiku said about him “I read his book and it confirmed my impression of him as a man of first-class brain but arrogant, full of himself, immature and nauseating, trying to make up for his diminutive stature in what is called “the small man syndrome” 

Their boss Pres. Obasanjo also described him as  “a talented young man who can always deliver under close supervision”. 

What prompted me to write this article is the level of the breakdowm of our communal bondage moral upbringing and respect for the elders and constituted authorities. 

The north is known for its homeginity, our respect for culture, social up bringing and above all the supremacy our religion that binds us together. But with the introduction of Liberal Social democracy, the thread that keeps us together has broken down. We no longer respect our elders, our religions does not hold us together anymore, greed, individualism, nepotism and lack of respect for our elders and constituted authority keeps tearing us apart. 

Today we are people without leaders. we do not speak with one voice and in the face of the contradictions in our body polity, how can we hold together to face the seroous challenges. How can we as a people survive the on slaught and peacefully exist within the developing contradictions. 

We need to step back and take hard look at our current state of affairs and do the needful for our next generations.

Agitation for Sovereign National Conference

If you are following the events in both the Main Stream and the Social Media these high flying words may not be amazing to you again, namely, Restructuring, Succession, Sovereign National Conference, Resource Control, Quit Notice and many more. The bottom line is that all the groups feel something is fundementally wrong in the way we live as a Nation. And we must therefore find away to deal with it.
The highly educated or the wiser of groups feel we should convene a Sovereign National Conference to determine the way forward for the country.

Continue reading “Agitation for Sovereign National Conference”